Letter to the Chairman of the Committee
from the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office
In its Report on the Prison Service in Northern
Ireland, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee recommended inter
alia that the duties of Boards of Visitors should no longer include
jurisdiction over matters of prison discipline. The Secretary
of State accepted the recommendation.
At the Westminster Hall debate, on 27 January,
I indicated to the Committee that we were working towards the
removal of such powers.
I also indicated that removal may take time
as it raised important policy issues of balancing the needs of
good order and discipline in prisons and protecting staff, alongside
systems which guarantee the rights of prisoners. The coming into
effect of the Human Rights Act would also be an important consideration.
I am pleased to report to the Committee that
those policy issues have been resolved and we are now in a position
to remove the adjudicatory powers delegated to Boards by the Secretary
of State. The Secretary of State has, today, laid in the House,
the Prison and Young Offenders Centre (Amendment) Rules (Northern
Ireland) 2000 which will effect the removal of Boards of Visitors
from the adjudication process. The new provisions will come into
effect on 2 October concurrently with the Human Rights Act.
You may wish to advise the Committee of the
The Rt Hon Adam Ingram JP MP
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
11 September 2000